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Don’t get mad at the weather people

Photo: Bobby Jones · The Sentry

Meteorologists deserve some credit

Weather forecasters have a hard job. They use the latest technology, science, and math to predict the unpredictable forces of nature. People look to meteorologists for wardrobe guidance every morning, and forecasters save lives by warning cities of impending natural disasters. However, despite their critical role in the world, they seem to be wildly underappreciated.

While forecasters do make an occasional slip up, they are much more often extremely accurate.

Meteorology is a science that has been greatly improving over the years. Today, according to National Weather Service data, meteorologists are typically accurate within two to 2.5 degrees of the actual day’s temperature—a pretty outstanding feat considering the fickle tendencies of weather.

Predicting rain is complicated. Meteorologists use numerous tools like weather balloons, satellites, and radar to measure all sorts of things like temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and cloud patterns. With all this information—and lots more—forecasters apply intricate math to determine precipitation.

Even with this tremendous difficulty, in 2013, predictions for precipitation the next day were correct 82 percent of the time, according to the Washington Post.

According to, 24-hour period forecasts are accurate 90-94 percent of the time, which means they are wrong only 6-10 percent of the time. To put that in perspective, that means only about 21-36 days out of an entire calendar year are incorrectly predicted.

So if meteorologists are so good, then why are there so many snide remarks and jokes about how weather predictions are always wrong? The reason is that those 21-36 days the prediction was wrong stick out a lot more in people’s minds than the other 329-344 that were right. The fact that people notice so much when the forecast is wrong shows that meteorologists are doing their job exceptionally well.

In people’s everyday lives and jobs, mistakes are made all the time. It isn’t fair to criticize someone in a profession solely on their accuracy, especially when they are predicting things better than anyone else is. And if someone thinks they can predict the weather better, they shouldn’t just mock and criticize, they should go do it and see how difficult it really is.

Forecasters have a career in predicting the future, something that most people wouldn’t even know how to attempt. The fact that they can even get it right at all is amazing. They don’t get it wrong on purpose or just make random guesses; meteorologists use technology, math, and science to provide the most accurate forecast possible. It is a science that has changed the world drastically and saved thousands of lives.

So next time the snowfall is less than predicted or the day is colder than expected, just change your shoes, put on a jacket, and smile knowing that meteorologists are doing the best they can with the best technology available—and it is amazing how well they can predict the future.

Tessa Blair
Tessa Blair

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